Senior Care Centre’s Guide to Stress and Care Giving 

According to studies, over half of caregivers have depression, with a majority of them experiencing what is commonly called “caregiver stress” according to Senior Care Center.

This isn’t surprising when you consider how many people who are caring for a parent have multiple other responsibilities that they are juggling as well.  Full-time jobs, raising their children, along with household responsibilities all add to levels of stress that are already high. As part of this process, it is very common for caregivers to put aside their own well-being, feelings, and health. This can be very damaging and lead to a wide range of physical conditions including guilt, sadness, and anxiety. If you need help caring for a loved one, or some advice contact Senior Care Center.

So, if you are caring for an aging parent, Senior Care Center  advised us that you should recognize the following warning signs, and then immediately deal with your stress.

  • Feelings of depression, hopelessness, and dread
  • Unexplained irritability
  • Difficulties with focusing on other aspects of your life, and potentially resulting in reduced work performance
  • Recurrent colds, stomach aches, and headaches
  • Weight gain or loss, and changed eating habits
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, and difficulties with sleeping, either too little or too much
  • Social withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Unusual anger, moodiness, or sadness

When you are caring for other people, it is also critical that you make your own health a top priority. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:

Make lists, and get a daily routine established. Track all of the tasks that need to get done, and then prioritize, balance, and delegate responsibilities. Most important of all, change your schedule in order to avoid exhaustion and anxiety.

Whenever you need it, make sure you ask for help. Getting support from loved ones and friends is a sign of strength and not of weakness. It is critically important that you take good care for yourself so that you can provide your parent with quality care. Beyond immediately family members, many cities have adult care and other types of services available for the elderly. There are also many churches that provide senior programs. With friendly and safe environments and lots of activities offered, make use of outside care in order to give your parent and you a well-deserved break.

Take good care of both your mind and body. In addition to exercising on a regular basis, you should also follow a balanced diet as well, and take the time to get together with friends, enjoy a hobby, and simply to relax. Although it can be hard to leave the care of your parent in somebody else’s hands, it is critical for you to have a break, for at least a couple of hours. If you neglect your own emotional and physical health, you will be left vulnerable to exhaustion and disease.

Get help if you are feeling depressed. Caregivers are at very high risk for depression, however, many people do not even realize they are depressed. Those feelings develop over time and if they are not treated will grow progressively worse. Instead of just hoping the condition will disappear, seek medical help instead. That can make a significant difference.

Talk with a close friend, support group, or counselor on a regular basis. Although you might not want to talk about your frustrations and feelings, it can be beneficial to have an outlet for these emotions. A parent might have behavioral problems – wandering away from home, hitting, yelling – that may stir up painful and unfamiliar emotions. A sympathetic listener can provide the perspective, comfort, and support that you need to get through your day.

It is well worth noting that it can be very challenging to care for an elderly parent but also can have positive effects on your entire family. It provides you with a strong sense of purpose, the opportunity to nurture and strengthen an intergenerational bond, and that positive feeling of knowing you are making a big difference in your parent’s life.

What I’ve Learned From Not Checking My Facebook Homepage For 30 Days

What I’ve Learned From Not Checking My Facebook Homepage For 30 Days

I’m not against Facebook. I think it’s a great thing. However, a month ago I had to go 4 days without any Internet (and therefore, Facebook) as we were moving into our new house.

When I finally did check Facebook, I realized that life went out without me… and I didn’t feel like I missed anything.

Prepare for the Hallmark movie cliché, but it showed me that my family right in front of me is all that really matters.

So from there I decided to stop checking my Facebook homepage for the following month; that time period ended today. However, the 30 day self-assigned pledge has inspired me to continue staying off my Facebook homepage.

I no longer am exposed to snarky, annoying, self-serving comments; including being tempted to post my own. My exposure to negativity has decreased by 100%; though I admit there’s probably not a true way to measure the validity of that percentage decrease.

But I feel it. I feel great. My quality of life has improved since nixing my Facebook homepage.

There is something called “FOMO” (fear of missing out) that is apparently increased by social media. Apparently, I have less subconscious anxiety in my life because I have less exposure to the news I’m apparently missing out on.

Can you gossip about yourself? If so, Facebook is the platform. I’d rather not tune in to people gossiping about themselves, about the the news, about groups of people, or whatever else can fall into that category.

I should point out too that I cancelled the ability for my phone to receive any messages based on Facebook activity too.

What I’ve Learned From Not Checking My Facebook Homepage For 30 Days

Another part of my pledge was to only start publishing new posts here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog on Thursdays, which helps me focus on living “real life” with my family and not being distracted by daily focusing on publishing new stuff.

That decision has proven successful for me. I am happier now that I am only posting new material one night per week, all at once. Therefore, that’s really the only time I’m needing to log in to Facebook anywhere.

I don’t feel socially disconnected since locking myself out of my Facebook homepage.

Friday begins the National Day of Unplugging (March 6-7, 2015). Of course, I’m taking the pledge. It’s pretty much my life now anyway.

It’s not right for everybody, but it’s definitely right for me. In the past month I have learned that my personal happiness can truly be measured by my lack of exposure to my Facebook homepage and having to feel pressured to daily post new stuff on my blog.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Fence, Trees, And Shrubbery

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence And Shrubbery

Dear Jack,

In theory, two weeks from now we should already be sleeping in our new home; as the closing date is January 29th.

So obviously, our family is very excited about our upcoming move…

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence And Shrubbery

However, at the same time, I’m equally nervous about it. Because I’m not kidding myself on the potential logistical problems that can and may easily occur before or on our closing date.

Mommy and I are both taking off from work the day after our closing date to facilitate the move; for me, one of my assignments is to be there for the guy to install our Internet and also for another guy to move in the refrigerator.

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence And Shrubbery

And I’m anxious about the “final walk-through,” worried it won’t happen this week as it’s supposed to, and worried that for the things we do find that need to be fixed, that they won’t be fixed in time to move in on time.

From there, I fear that we will have to choose sacrificing moving in the day we are supposed to… over having some small issues taken care of, like some of the doors not closing as smoothly and the front porch light already having a crack in it.

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence And Shrubbery

Well, I guess we’ll find out pretty soon how that part of the story works out.

As for now, I’ll spotlight some of the finishing touches we noticed on our visit yesterday, after seeing Paddington.

 

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence, Trees, And Shrubbery

They put in grass, shrubbery, and trees for our yard; they finished the construction of our fence, and they stained our shutters for us.

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence And Shrubbery

It’s pretty cool to be able to look out the windows of the back of the house and see ourbackyard.

Our backyard. We’re going to have a backyard. That is definitely a new concept; as constrasted to the townhouse we’ve lived in all these years.

Dear Jack: Our New Home's Fence, Trees, And Shrubbery

We’re almost there. I’m really looking forward to us already being moved in though.

That’s why this whole thing doesn’t end once we do move; there will surely be much more to the story.

Love,

Daddy

Planners Vs. Procrastinators: Of Control Freaks and Slackers

I am not a control freak… except when it comes to my own time.

Despite being a pretty social person, I could essentially see myself as a loner who happens to be outgoing and have good people skills.  But my personal time is closely guarded.  And I happened to marry someone who is the same way.  That means when friends invite us last minute to an event, the answer is usually no.  On the other hand, we are such planners that if friends invite us to an event at least several days in advance, we will definitely be there.  Not only that, we will not back out of the plans or be late.

Because we are such planners, every day is already accounted for: even if the event we already planned is to “do nothing” for the afternoon.  We don’t prioritize our calendar’s events based on the seemingly most exciting thing going on.  Instead, we go by what was planned first.  I think the psychological reason behind this is that one of my biggest pet peeves is being interrupted; jumping on board with last minute plans is an interruption to my schedule.

While there are so many elements in life I can not control, my schedule is something I am able to have a decent amount of control over.  My schedule is my time; my time is my life; if I can control my time, I am therefore able to control my own life.  I may not be able to control other people, but I am able to be in driver’s seat of my own life.  Not shotgun or in the sidecar.

Heckler from the crowd: “You just wait ‘til that baby gets here… He’ll be the one controlling your calendar from now on!” Right, I get that, but… we will still find a way, to the best of our ability, to “find a method to the madness”.  (I have this habit of placing clichés into quotation marks.) Because that’s what we “control freaks of our own lives” do.  We are wired that way.  The schedule will be built around the unpredictability of a newborn, yet still in some sense, there will be a schedule and consistency.

The irony here is this: For so many of the things in life we think we have no control over, we still can choose how we react to those situations; therefore, having control over the situations.  I used to get irritated when I would be two minutes late to work on occasion.  Because I couldn’t understand why if I left at the same time every morning, sometimes I would be two minutes early, sometimes on time, and sometimes two minutes late.  Then I realized that in order to never be late, I just needed to leave five minutes earlier, causing me to always beat school buses, grannies, illegal immigrants who always drive 25 miles an hour because they are driving without insurance, and the rest of the phase of commuters like me who all left at the same time.  But now, I outsmart them all.  They no longer have control over my life (and my stress level).

Of course, not all annoying things in life can literally be planned around or outsmarted.  But when that’s the case, I remind myself that either I am in control… or the event is in control.  If my Internet isn’t working right, then I shut off my laptop and find something else to do- I don’t allow myself to become irritated over a piece of technology.  If someone is tailgating me while I’m driving the speed limit, I pull over and let them pass.  I just know that if I’m am consistently getting stressed multiple times a day and I can feel my blood pressure going up, the problem is not the problem itself.  The problem is me and how I am choosing to react.  I have to choose to be in control of my own sense of well-being, if nothing else.

I am a planner.  I can plan around certain uncertainty.  I can plan around my own unrealistic expectations.  I can even plan to be spontaneous.  But even then, I still plan for it.


dad from day one: The Benefits of Responsibility and the Inevitability of Learning from Mistakes

Thirty-three weeks.

Something I have learned in my adult life so far is that when I am offered more responsibility, it’s almost always the best decision to take it.  Sure, there is such a thing as wearing yourself too thin by agreeing to too many things, even (and especially) with church activities, but that’s a whole different story.  When the company I work for asks me on short notice to leave for a trade show which begins two days after returning from my vacation, or I realize I can save an errand and $20 by activating our new cell phones myself instead of going down to Verizon Wireless, I do it.  Responsibility is an important key in maturity.  And maturity is a key to quality of life.

Hence, parenthood.  Responsibility is almost always attached to loss of time, space, and freedom.  But there are certain life experiences that can never be known and certain character elements that can never be built until responsibility is tackled head on.  Of course, when any person adopts a new important role in their  life, it means they will consistently make mistakes while doing it (since new life experiences don’t usually come with a detailed user’s guide).  And those mistakes become the actual footnotes for every future reference.

I am prepared to lose my sense of freedom, my time, my space, and especially my sleep.  I am prepared to make mistakes constantly, yet learn from them.  I am prepared to become more responsible than I’ve ever been before.  Most importantly, I am prepared to be more blessed than I’ve ever been before, as well.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

A Storytelling of Snake Charmers (or Escapists)

Sometimes there’s no way to get around or over a problem; the only way to get past it is to just go through it.

This past Saturday my friend Tommy and I embarked on our second annual canoe trip on The Harpeth River in Nashville.  The same river that just a month ago flooded much of the western part of the city.  I would love to paint myself as this avid outdoorsman, compensating for the fact (as I’ve established before) that I’m no athlete.  But really, it’s just that I can’t turn down an activity with a friend that allows me to spend several hours breathing fresh air, getting sunburned (just my knees, very badly), and getting to see wildlife.

Especially one that I deem as a lazy adventure (Manspeak, Volume 8: Relaxation).  With the water being as high as it was, very little power was needed on our part to get the canoe moving.  Just basic steering away from rocks and into the best currents.  Like most male oriented social activities, canoeing  kept us from awkwardly facing each other the whole time (Manspeak, Volume 4: Stance).  And gave us something to do when there was nothing to say (which never really happened, because of our mutual love for Super Mario Bros. 2, McGee and Me, and fatherhood).

Two hours into our journey, after relatively no stress whatsoever, I had to do it.  I had to, in typical 1980’s sitcom fashion, speak a line of ironic foreshadowing: “This has been a really laid back trip.  No problems at all.”

Instantly, we look up and ahead.  Two trees had fallen from the flood; one from both sides of the river, blocking the entire length of passage, doubly.  But even in that moment, we didn’t realize that this puzzle ahead was more complicated than just getting past two fallen trees.

We decided the right side of the river promised the easiest and quickest clearance.  I had learned from our last trip that where there was thick, abundant, yellowish foam, it meant there was a decaying animal trapped alongside the river.  As we got closer to the foam, both of us smelled the corpse before we saw it.  A large dead fish, head and tail missing.  Still the size of the pillow you sleep on every night.  Meaning that passing through would ineviditably mean we would have to step in the water to lift the canoe over the fallen tree, we opted to check out the left side of the river blockage as to not get funky fish foam on our sunburning legs.

We steered to the canoe to the other side, seeing right way that the depth of blockage was even greater.  In our strategy forming minds, we both came up with our own idea of how to get through.  Tommy wanted us to stick to our original plan; to step in the water and lift the canoe over our heads and over the trees, then place it back in the water and hop back in the canoe.

I, however, saw a different means of escape.  Shaking the tree and its submerged limbs further in and out of the water, I came to the conclusion that if I crouched down low in the boat, Tommy could stand on the tree, pushing the canoe through the limbs as I helped keep them pushed down to make way for our path.

Tommy is an easy-going guy.  Or maybe it was my natural older brother demeanor, but I convinced him to do it my way.

And right as he said, “alright, let’s do this”, I replied with “Oh, there’s a snake right there!”

I picked my oar up, placing it on my shoulder like a rifle.  “Look five feet away from the end of my oar.  There’s a black snake wrapped around that branch.  He blends in almost perfectly.  His head is up, and he’s looking at us right now.”

It’s not that he didn’t believe me, it’s just that my head was in the way for a few minutes before he could finally see the thing.  And when he did, he jumped in to “crisis mode” with me.

Of course, a man in Crisis Mode is not a man who gets nervous or noticeably excited.  He is a man who speaks lower and slower as he attempts to play the situation in slo-mo, in order to figure out the best practical solution for the potentially dangerous and deadly problem.

After another five minutes (which seemed like 20) of deliberation, after realizing our wishes of killing the snake with a flame thrower were not part of reality (thanks a lot Contra), that we had to meet this problem head on, we went in to Action Mode, while of course, simultaneously remaining in Crisis Mode.

Keeping our eyes constantly scanning the weather, the bank (filled with a good amount of visible snake holes), and the canopy of tree branches over us for more snakes, we carefully lifted the canoe out of the water and over the fallen tree, sliding in the mud (he was wearing flip flops, I was wearing my ten-year old New Balance cross country running shoes), only to realize that once we set the canoe back into the water, another 12 feet ahead was another (this being the third) fallen tree blocking the entire width of the river.

The snake, now behind us, had slithered off of his resting (preying) place on the branch.  Was he in the water now?  Were his friends waiting up ahead of us?  We tried not to think about it.

We hoisted the canoe over the final tree.  The only way into our vehicular escape module was to hop down a few feet from the tree we were standing on at that point, which meant possibly tipping the boat over.  Thank God, we both landed it and got out of there as fast as we could.

The final hour of the trip involved a lot of head turning at every threat of another lethal animal.  We did end up seeing a doe that froze once it saw us.  I was convinced I would see a great beast out there, like a mountain lion or a blank panther.  Never happened though.

The thing is, I’m typically the last person to ever spot any kind of creature in wildlife.  And despite me being so close to the snake, I’m still amazed I spotted it.  We talked about the possible ending this story would have had if I wouldn’t have miraculously seen the snake.  I would have remained in the canoe as Tommy pushed us through, the snake would have been inches away from my nose- either biting my face and falling into the canoe with us.

When I bought my mountain bike back in April, the girl who sold it to me told me that when her brother was working at Bonnaroo last year, he got bit by a water moccasin.  He had to be airlifted to the hospital and given a $40,000 antidote.  Now he was to pay off that debt on a $30,000 a year salary.

But in that moment encountering the snake on the river, what else could we do?  We couldn’t go over or around the problem, we just had to man up and go through the problem.

Myself and Tommy back in 2008

Taking the Time to Stop and Smell the Play-Doh

And boy, does it smell good.

None of us will ever have enough money.  The house will never be paid off.  Life will always be chaotic.  There will always be a plot that has the ability to constantly keep us on edge.

And that means that we have the option of letting those distractions from letting us enjoy life for what it is.  The default is to be stressed out about the crap we end up stepping in on our way to wherever we are headed. The thorn in the flesh.  The Starbucks drink that wasn’t made just right.  The slightly rude comment we allow to ruin our day.

Though all that really matters in life are the very things we being distracted from.  That’s not fair to the things that do matter.  It’s not the fault of the distractions.

It’s our fault.  For paying for attention to the annoyances in life more than the small wonders and experiences and people that actually make us happy.

Besides, the people that actually do have enough money, the movie stars, the rock stars, the people who don’t deserve our worship that we give anyway, often it’s their lives tend to come across as empty, broken, and lacking.  Even desperate sometimes.  We worship them, yet we don’t respect them outside of their fame, money, success, and talent.  That’s why “celebreality” shows exist.

What is normal, anyway?  A chaotic life where things are not perfect, where money is always lacking, but solid, meaning relationships are not.  I bet a lot of millionaires wish they could be normal.  Like us.

Metaphorical Train Wreck